NOTE: Mark Pace, a local Montgomery collector and enthusiast, shares his collection and insights into the fascinating history of Camp Sheridan on March 4, 2018 at Old Alabama Town Reception Center, 301 Columbus St, Montgomery, AL 36104, USA 2:00pm – 3:00pm
While based at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama during World War I, the famous author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, met and fell in love with Zelda Sayre (1900–1948), the daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court justice and the “golden girl”, in Fitzgerald’s terms, of Montgomery youth society.
The war ended in 1918, before Fitzgerald was ever deployed, and upon his discharge he moved to New York City hoping to launch a career in advertising that would be lucrative enough to convince Zelda to marry him.
Headquarters Co. 167th Infantry. Camp Sheridan, Alabama Oct. 23rd 1918 – Second Lieutenant F. Scott Fitzgerald is seated on the first row, eighth from the right(Alabama State Archives)
167th U.S. Infantry, Camp Sheridan, Alabama October 30, 1918 Second Lieutenant F. Scott Fitzgerald stands in the third row, fifth from the right (Alabama State Archives)
Camp Sheridan was a large United States army camp located three and one- fourth miles north of Montgomery on the Lower Wetumpka Road. Vandiver Park had long been used by the national guard of Alabama as a training camp. When the president called the national guard together in 1916 for border service, they mobilized at that place. They were also encamped there, upon their return.
Camp Sheridan before the tents arrived ca. 1917 (Alabama State Archives)
When Montgomery was designated by the War Department as a mobilization center this tract of land with the purchase of additional property from Capt. A. G. Forbes and other citizens afforded the Government the two thousand acres which it had contracted with the city to furnish.
In 1917 several hundred officers and men arrived at Montgomery to start preparing Camp Sheridan for the 37th Division, composed of troops from Ohio.
The 37th Division, consisting of the headquarters troops; the military police; two brigades of infantry; three regiments of artillery; sanitary trains; field signal corps battalion; engineer regiments; engineer train; ammunition and supply trains, was instructed at Camp Sheridan before its departure for France.
Field artillery at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama ca. 1917 (Alabama State Archives)
When the 37th Division departed from Montgomery for France in 1918 it was decided to form a new division which should be known as the Ninth Division, and the 45th and 46th Regiments of Infantry were assigned to the camp to be used as a nucleus for the new division.
After the signing of the Armistice Camp Sheridan was designated as a demobilization camp. The property reverted to the city of Montgomery, which in turn sold it to the State for the site of a new State penitentiary.
- History of Alabama and dictionary of Alabama biography, vol. 1 / Marie Bankhead Owen (p. 198-202).
- Alabama State Archives
Ribbon of Love: A Novel of Colonial America (Tapestry of Love) (Volume 1) Inspired by actual people and historical events! Based on the Cottingham ancestors of Bibb County, Alabama.
Excerpt – “We’re all going to die!” echoed from below deck amid the frenzied screams and cries from terrified women and children between decks. Sounds of chaos below deck filled the air as the hands scrambled to free the foremast before it broke through the ship. “Quickly, men” We need to free that fore-mast now!” bellowed Captain Potts. “But, by God be careful, we don’t want to lose another man!”